Ranking Empire boys' basketball

Refreshed from a three-week vacation it’s time to tackle the most pressing of high school boys’ basketball issues, which are the best teams in the Empire?

With calpreps.com section and league rankings as my cheat sheet, here’s what I’ve come up with as far as large school and small school rankings:

Large School — 1. Cardinal Newman (13-0, 2-0), 2. Piner (11-3, 2-0), 3. Analy (10-6, 2-0), T4. Maria Carrillo (8-5, 1-1), T4. Montgomery (8-6, 1-1), T4. Ukiah (10-4, 1-1).

An obvious big game is Friday at Piner when the Prospectors host Cardinal Newman. Lucas Devenny and crew against Tony Baldocchi and Danny Binz-led Newman. It figures to be a classic and intense battle.

Analy looks like the favorite in the SCL with four of the Tigers losses coming against Newman and Piner (two each).

Maria Carrillo, led by Justin Herold, lost to Ukiah on the road, which lost to Montgomery on the road. Ukiah plays at Piner on Wednesday and Maria Carrillo plays at Montgomery on Friday in other key NBL matchups.

In small schools, three of the top teams are residents of the NCL I South: Cloverdale, St. Vincent and Clear Lake. And St. Helena, another NCL I South member, also has a winning record.

Cloverdale’s only losses have been to two-time defending state champ Branson (Redwood Classic) and by two points to Casa Grande at the Brett Callan Memorial tournament.

Small school boys’ rankings: 1. Cloverdale (14-2, 0-0), 2. St. Vincent (12-4, 0-0), 3. Clear Lake (10-4, 0-0), 4. Rincon Valley Christian (9-3, 2-0), 5. Roseland University Prep 7-6, 2-0).

If you’ve seen any of these teams play so far, what do you think?